Kernow Sat 1 aims to bring the value of space close to home by engaging audiences across Cornwall — from academia to local businesses to charities and school children.
Cornwall’s intention is that this G7 legacy project become a historic payload – the first satellite designed, manufactured and launched in Cornwall – with the intention of it forming part of Virgin Orbit’s first UK launch next year from Spaceport Cornwall.
In line with the Spaceport’s missions of democratizing space and championing the use of satellites for environmental monitoring, the satellite will bring together the community to problem solve issues around Cornwall’s marine health and its Blue Economy.
The Government funding will be used for the research, design and build of cubesat: Kernow Sat 1. The research will be undertaken by the University of Exeter that will be running a Think Tank with experts in the marine field to establish the exact data requirements to effectively research and implement activities surrounding the health of Cornwall’s coasts and associated economy.
To engage and inspire the next generation Spaceport Cornwall’s SPINTERN (Space Intern), recently awarded by the UK Space Agency, will be working alongside consultancy KISPE Space on the design of the specific optical payload. The build will be undertaken in collaboration with Oregon State University’s Open Source CubeSat and KISPE Space, who will share expertise and knowledge with Spaceport Cornwall’s Outreach Team. The team will work alongside Truro and Penwith College, using their new Space Technology Training program to build the Kernow Sat 1 in Cornwall.
Once complete, Cornwall’s intention is that this payload will be one of the first payloads to be processed at Cornwall Airport Newquay.
This innovative community approach to space will set a precedent for future missions, fostering collaboration across industry and bringing space closer to local communities – all while collecting key data to inform local environmental policies.
Melissa Thorpe, Head of Spaceport Cornwall, said, “We are thrilled that this payload could be part of the first launch from Spaceport Cornwall. Engaging with the community and protecting the environment through Earth Observation are an integral part of Spaceport’s mission and we hope to create a framework for community launches, helping influence local policy through key data collection.”
Will Pomerantz, Vice President of Special Projects, Virgin Orbit, added, “Virgin Orbit exists to make space for everyone from everywhere. We’re very excited about the potential opportunity to carry Kernow Sat 1 as part of our first launch from Spaceport Cornwall, and we hope that this is the first of many payloads designed and built here in Cornwall. When innovators have the power to launch their own satellites close to home, there’s a clear pathway to harnessing the ideas and applications that will have the most impact for the local community.”
Glenn Caplin-Grey, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said, “Kernow Sat 1 will be a real team effort, designed, built and launched right here in Cornwall, with its data used to inform decision-making on the ground. It’s a hugely exciting project that will inspire a new generation about the importance of space and the environment, while bolstering our space economy.”
Ian Annett, Deputy CEO, UK Space Agency, said, “Space-based technology is at the heart of national and global efforts to understand and minimise the effects of climate change. From next year small satellites such as Kernow Sat 1 will launch from UK spaceports and play a vital role in driving forward the UK’s efforts to protect our environment and build back greener from the pandemic. Kernow Sat 1 is a hugely exciting project. It will not only help improve the environment but also inspire communities about the importance of space, demonstrate the strong UK academic interest and is an exemplar of how space is becoming increasingly accessible to help shape a better future for everyone.”